Brexit backer Arron Banks to face MPs over Russian Federation claims

Brexit News Arron Banks Nigel Farage

The reports emails existed showing Banks discussed a potential business deal involving six Russian gold mines with ambassador Alexander Yakovenko after being introduced to him by a suspected Russian spy.

Millionaire Brexit campaigner Arron Banks in London. Banks met with Moscow's United Kingdom ambassador three times, but says he did not take Russian money.

Wigmore told the committee he first met with the Russians in his role as a diplomat for the South American country of Belize.

Arron Banks, who helped fund the Leave.EU Brexit campaign, will face MPs' questions on Tuesday about claims linking him to Russian officials.

A laughing Collins responded: "It's a nice try, Mr Wigmore".

Banks, who financed the Leave.EU campaign, said that at the time when he and his associate Andy Wigmore met Russian Embassy officials before the 2016 referendum, contact with them was not regarded as an issue.

"What I'm saying is we've now got a full-scale Russian witch hunt going on".

Banks initially replied: "A good lunch, and that's what I got", prompting Watling to ask if there were in fact "Many good lunches?" "But I think we've been as open as we could be with the issues you've raised".

"Was that money made used in political campaigning?"

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In vehemently stating that all his business interests were legally structured, Mr Banks let the MPs he was speaking in front of know that he probably paid more tax than them.

"You can join us if you want".

"Clearly that's nonsense", he said.

In a tense exchange, Mr Banks tells the committee it has already run late and he has to leave to go for lunch. Farage: "Were you "reporting back" to the Russian Ambassador?"

The committee is quizzing Banks about his possible ties to Russian Federation, after the Sunday Times said his ties to the country went further and deeper than he had previously disclosed.

Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Trump in 2016, has denied its work on the USA president's successful election campaign made use of allegedly improperly harvested data - but questions have since been raised over any role in other votes.

He said: "We had a couple of issues in relation to bananas and sugar and the initial conversation I had with this gentleman at the Ukip conference - I was trying to find investors to look at perhaps buying a banana farm which had got into trouble because of its owner. and as a effect Belize couldn't sell its bananas in places like the United States or the United Kingdom".

Mr Wigmore said that Leave.EU has lodged an appeal after the Electoral Commission found the organisation breached spending rules during the referendum.

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